L’Dor VaDor Campaign – Generation to Generation – Honoring Our Past – Securing Our Future
Rabbi Mark Mallach
Thank you Pam and erev tov to everyone.
This past Monday, I had the privilege of hearing a Dvar Torah given by Professor Arnie Eisen, the Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary. In one part, he shared that he admired the similar theologies of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Abraham Heschel – contemporaries who marched together in the Civil Rights Movement. Chancellor Eisen shared that both King and Heschel espoused a view of an active God in our world, but One that it is not always clear to us, yet God is here.
King was often asked how a God present in our lives could allow civil rights abuses and the threats and attempts on his life. King’s last speech, delivered on April 3, 1968, clearly reflects the King/Heschel shared theology:
“I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life…But … I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And … tonight… I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
Heschel, who lost nearly his entire family in the Shoah, and King, who would be assassinated the very next day after that speech, both took to heart the words of Perkei Avot, the Ethics of Our Ancestors:
רבי טרפון אומר, היום קצר, והמלאכה מרובה, והפועלים עצלים, והשכר הרבה, ובעל הבית דוחק.
“The day is short, the labor vast, the toilers idle, the reward great, and the Master of the house [our God] is insistent.” (Avot 2:20) And, in the next verse:
לא עליך כל המלאכה לגמור, ולא אתה בן חורין ליבטל
“It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it”
My dear friends, tonight, this gala celebration, kicks-off our L’Dor VaDor Campaign – Generation to Generation – Honoring Our Past – Securing Our Future.
Tonight, we have begun to climb the mountain to our promised land of fiscal security. Tonight, we honor those upon whose backs we were carried in the past – we have 33 member units whom have been members for at least 50 years; and tonight, we know the labor is vast but our Master – our God, is insistent that we provide for the future of our children, grandchildren and God-willing our great-grandchildren.
Tonight, I look upon this gathering and I now clearly understand what Rabbi Tarfon meant: “It is not incumbent upon us to complete the work, but neither are we free to desist from it”
Tonight, our lay leadership will tell us that the labor is vast, but the reward will be great.
And, tonight, I want to say to you, that “I want you to know .. that we, as a people will get to the promised land…Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” And that glory of God is reflected in your eyes that I now look into in this sanctuary.
My dear friends, Hillel haya omer, Eem lo achshvav, az ma`tai – Hillel said, “If not now, then when?” Tonight officially begins the now – tonight – LaDor VaDor – climb the mountain with me and see the glory of the Lord! Hallayuah! ALUASA.